Iran accused the US of “daily violations” of the 2015 nuclear accord and lashed out at President Donald Trump for poisoning business against the country as Tehran faces renewed sanctions over its regional aggressions and missile proliferation activities.
Abbas Araghchi, a deputy foreign minister, told a meeting at London’s Chatham House that Washington’s call to scrap sunset clauses in the agreement that phases out restrictions on nuclear activity would not be accepted by the regime.
Any attempt to link the sanctions relief within the deal to the policies that have implicated Iran in conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon would also be rejected by Tehran. "It would be a big big mistake now if people were to link the [deal] to any other issue," he said. “To makes these restrictions permanent means killing the deal. We accepted 10 to 15 years of restrictions for the sake of confidence building, doesn't mean we have to build confidence forever.”
After the US National Security Adviser HR McMaster warned against investment and trade deals with Iran at a summit in Munich at the weekend, the Iranian diplomat said the rhetoric from Washington was destroying any potential benefits that Iran could gain from the accord.
“The US is violating [the deal] almost on a daily basis, they created atmosphere of uncertainty, poisonous for international business. The deal can’t continue in this way, we can’t stay in the deal which has no benefits for us,” he said.
Mr Trump declined to certify that the accord was in the interests of the US in October and has said he would scrap it and reimpose sanctions unless European allies align with the US in fixing significant flaws in the deal.
Mr Araghchi has a reputation as a moderate and has been engaged with European diplomats who are consulting with Tehran ahead of Mr Trump’s May deadline for a toughening of sanctions against Iran. While in Britain he met Alistair Burt, the foreign office minister for the Middle East.
"Continuing constructive engagement with Iran is vital on issues ranging from the preservation of the Iran nuclear deal to the ongoing detention of British dual nationals in Iran," said Mr Burt. "Iran is, in addition, a pivotal actor in the wider Middle East. In my meetings I urged the Iranian Government to play a more positive role in the region, particularly in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria."
However he ruled out negotiations over Iran’s missile programme and said that the country would not sign up to non-proliferation undertakings for another six years, if at all.
While claiming credit for the roll back of Isil, remarking "you would have Daesh forces now in Damascus" had not Iran taken a role in the civil war, Mr Araghchi added “there is no military solution' in Syria”.
In an interview with the BBC, he said there was little his country could do to ease the suffering of those under lethal siege by regime force in places like Eastern Ghouta.
“Yes the problem is there are too much players and the situation has become very complicated in different areas of Syria. In this particular case we are in close contact with the Syrian government trying to see how we can, how we can actually de-escalate this tension and start sending humanitarian assistance to the people who are suffering in that city,” he said.
After Israel warned Iran not to test its defences from Syria, the Iranian diplomat shrugged off Benjamin Netanyahu’s complaints about Tehran’s role.
“Fear of war is everywhere in our region unfortunately because of the, you know, interference by, by foreign powers and wrong policies and miscalculations of some players inside the region, and of course the hegemonic policies of the Israeli regime,” he said. “For the time being the situation in Syria has become very complicated.”
A day after the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual citizen, delivered a personal plea to the Iranian embassy for her release from a five-year prison sentence after she was convicted on spying charges, the Iranian official said he could not deliver a breakthrough.
Richard Ratcliffe delivered the letters on Wednesday morning in the hope that Mr Araghchi, would be spurred to action.
"He's here to improve relations between Iran and the UK and we want Nazanin to be right at the front of that," Mr Ratcliffe said.
“Well I don't have any good news for the time being. We, in the Foreign Ministry are trying to approach this, her case, on a humanitarian basis, but of course our judiciary is fully independent and they decide on each and every case based on the, you know, regulations they have,” he said. “We actually tried, as I said, to make some humanitarian approach to our judiciary, we are still working on that and I hope that we come to the conclusion to a day that we can see, you know, a better situation for Nazanin Zagari, but it is absolutely in the hands of our judiciary.”
There was a similarly tough message for supporters of 81-year-old Baquer Namazi, an ailing US citizen held in an Iranian prison. “I think when, you know, regardless of this case, when you make, when you commit a crime it doesn't make difference how old are you, but the fact is there are serious, you know, points about Mr Baquer Namazi, but again from a humanitarian point of view, we are approaching our judiciary to make sure that he would receive, you know, health treatment,” he said.